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Vettel won't beat Schumacher record, claims Hill

Damon Hill has cast doubts on Sebastian Vettel's ability to take seven world titles in a more competitive era of F1 racing.
While he clearly has time on his side, Damon Hill does not believe that Sebastian Vettel will have the chances to get close to fellow countryman Michael Schumacher's record of seven F1 world titles.

Vettel became the youngest double champion in history when third place in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix gave him the point - and more - that he needed to deny Jenson Button a shot at the crown, but Hill insists that today's F1 playing field is to level to allow him to keep repeating.

"Michael's record is very unlikely ever to be beaten," the 1996 world champion and former BRDC chairman told BBC Sport, "They changed the rules because he was winning too much, [and] it's much more competitive now than it ever was. Vettel has that to contend with."

While he does not deny that Vettel will be a contender for future titles, Hill points to the undoubted support that his former nemesis received that enabled him to claim five straight crowns with Ferrari to add to the two he claimed with Benetton in the 1990s.

"All things were working towards helping Michael come to that level of championships," he noted, "There was a lot of momentum there that created the circumstances, [but] there were objections to the level of winning he was doing, and they changed the sport."

Hill also claimed that the jury was still out on exactly how good Vettel could be, having cruised to his second title in a superior car while potential rivals from McLaren, Ferrari and even with the Red Bull team squabbled over second place.

"[It's clear Vettel is] exceptional," the Briton admitted, "One thing that proves that is for a person of his age to cope with all the things that F1 can throw at you, apparently with very little difficulty. From the moment he put his Toro Rosso on pole and won at Monza [in 2008], that was a sign, a Schumacher moment. [Now], given the best car on the grid, he not only has grabbed [his opportunity] with both hands and made it work, but he's gone to another level. He's done some remarkable things with the best car, and his ability to pop a lap in right at the last minute of qualifying and just turn it on when he needs to shows he's got a bit in hand."

However, despite beating Fernando Alonso's record as the youngest driver to win two titles by almost exactly a year, and coming from behind to take the 2010 crown, Hill still reckons that the German can only be judged when he has to go head-to-head with one or more rivals for the crown.

"He's already got two in the bag, and another four titles in the next ten seasons wouldn't be out of the question, but it's never as straightforward as that," the former Brabham, Williams, Jordan and Arrows driver claimed, "You'd perhaps like to see him put through a bit of a tougher test of his mettle - a bit of pressure from another team, a contender. He has cracked under pressure this season - when Jenson was closing in Montreal, he dropped the ball.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
26.08.2011- Friday Practice 2, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26 and Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F-150 Italia
24.07.2011- Race, Press conference, Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F-150 Italia and Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
Damon Hill
09.10.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 3rd position and World F1 Champion
09.10.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), World Champion 2011 and 3rd position in the race
29.05.2011- Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 and Michael Schumacher (GER), Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team, MGP W02
Lewis Hamilton and The Stig
Sebastien Ogier, Red Bull, RB7, F1 test [Credit: Red Bull Content Pool]
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H

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October 11, 2011 11:32 AM

We must all remember that barring his Silverstone accident in 1999, Schumacher would certainly have won eight titles. Whenever the name Schumacher is mentioned any driver has a great deal to live up to.

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